Depolarized Brewster-angle microscopy revealed a novel two-dimensional (2D) mesophase in Langmuir monolayers of 4-octyl-4'-(3-carboxytrimethyleneoxy) azobenzene, characterized by ubiquitous schlieren textures resulting from the long-range order of in-plane molecular orientations. The lack of half-integral strength disclinations and the presence of a regular array of π-walls, across which the in-plane orientation changes by 180 degrees, indicate the vectorial nature of the underlying order parameter. The monolayer can, therefore, be viewed as a single layer of a bulk smectic C phase or as a 2D polar nematic phase, except for the obvious absence of mirror symmetry with respect to the layer plane. In contrast to the experience with bulk liquid crystalline phases, higher-order point disclinations were often found stable in the monolayer.
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